As Richland County continues preparations for the potential impacts from Hurricane Florence, residents are urged to make plans now to stay safe.
County officials are checking weather models and any possible local effects to determine whether to adjust the County’s operating hours over the next few days and into next week.
Richland County currently is operating at OPCON Level 3, which indicates an emergency situation is likely or imminent, with partial activation of the Emergency Operation Center (EOC). The EOC acts as the central hub for the County’s emergency response activities during severe weather events and other emergency situations.
Residents who live in areas prone to flooding and may need assistance evacuating are asked to call the EOC ahead of the storm at 803-576-3439, which is also the number for residents to call for general inquires related to the storm.
Employees and residents are urged to stay tuned to local news media and social media for weather information. For the latest updates from Richland County, follow Richland County on Facebook (/RichlandSC) and Twitter (@RichlandSC).
Staff is working with the SC Emergency Management Division and will use the County’s property at the Columbia Place Mall to stage hundreds of buses and ambulances. Public Works and Operational Services employees are mobilizing efforts to mitigate flooding threats, particularly in the County’s low lying areas and other damage including the accumulation of storm-related debris. Crews are clearing ditches and ensuring equipment – including chainsaws and generators – is fueled so they are ready to respond quickly.
Planning staff contacted developers to ensure active construction sites are secured. In addition, contractors on transportation projects have been alerted to do the same.
Trash collection continues to be on normal schedule. However, the Solid Waste & Recycling Division advises residents to note the following regarding roll carts:
- Strong winds can blow roll carts into the street; therefore roll carts should be put out for servicing by 7 a.m. on the collection day and returned to a safe location as soon as possible after they are serviced
- Ensure the lid of the roll cart is closed securely to reduce the possibility of trash blowing out
Tips for Residents
- Help ease flooding by raking leaves and other debris away from storm drains.
- Call your insurance agent in advance and know what your coverage is.
- Don’t allow children to play in rising water.
- Turn around, don’t drown: do not drive on flooded roadways.
Gather supplies for an emergency supply kit, including the following recommended items:
- Food, water and medicine to last up to seven days
- Battery-powered or hand crank radio
- NOAA Weather Radio with tone alert
- First-aid kit and whistle
- Extra batteries
- Dust mask to help filter contaminated air
- Plastic sheeting and duct tape to shelter-in-place
- Personal hygiene and sanitation supplies
- Wrench or pliers to turn off utilities
- Manual can opener
- Local maps
- Cell phone with chargers and a backup battery
- Copies of important documents in a plastic bag
- Warm clothing, sturdy shoes/boots and blankets
- Comfort items for children and pets
- Fire extinguisher
- Hearing impaired residents may need to make special arrangements to receive warnings.
- Mobility impaired residents may need special assistance to get to a shelter.
- Single working parents may need help to plan for disasters and emergencies.
- Non-English speaking residents may need assistance planning for and responding to emergencies.
- People without vehicles may need to make arrangements for transportation.
- People with special dietary needs should ensure they have an adequate emergency food supply.
- People with diabetes conditions should ensure they have an adequate supply of medication and keep it safely.
You should store at least one gallon of water per person per day. A normally active person needs at least one-half gallon of water daily just for drinking. Additionally, in determining adequate quantities, take the following into account:
- Individual needs vary, depending on age, physical condition, activity, diet, and climate.
- Children, nursing mothers, and ill people need more water.
- Very hot temperatures can double the amount of water needed.
- A medical emergency might require additional water.
Utility shut-off safety
Learn the proper shut-off procedure for the meter.
- Do not turn off the gas when practicing the proper gas shut-off procedure. If you smell gas or hear a blowing or hissing noise, open a window and get everyone out quickly. Turn off the gas, using the outside main valve if you can, and call the gas company from a neighbor’s home.
- If you turn off the gas for any reason, a qualified professional must turn it back on. Never attempt to turn the gas back on yourself.
Preparing to shut off water:
- Locate the shut-off valve for the water line that enters your house.
- Make sure this valve can be shut off completely.
- Your valve may be rusted open, or it only may partially close. Replace it if necessary.
Additionally, residents may want to get key numbers to contact their utility providers. SCE&G asks its customers to make note of the following:
To report power outages with other utility providers, call:
- Fairfield Electric, 800-499-7862
- Tri-County Electric, 803-353-8746
- Mid-Carolina Electric Cooperative, 803-749-6444 or 888-813-7000
- Dominion Energy, 866-401-5248
To report downed limbs or debris affecting public roadways in Richland County, call the non-emergency EOC number at 803-576-3439. (The County cannot assist with debris on private property.)
Tips for Businesses
Employers should make sure the workplace has a building evacuation plan that is practiced regularly.
- Take a critical look at your heating, ventilation and air conditioning system to determine if it is secure or if it feasibly could be upgraded to better filter potential contaminants, and be sure you know how to turn it off if needed.
- Think about what to do if your employees can’t go home.
- Make sure you have appropriate supplies on hand.